When Your Body Tells You To Slow The F**** Down
So I'm writing this at my physical therapist's office while sitting in some Norma-Tec hip compression sleeves. Normally I come here and sit in the normal leg sleeves after a race or a hard week as a reward because they feel sooo good but today I'm hoping they speed up my recovery.
Last week during what was supposed to be a 22 mile long run I got this insane spasm in my right butt check with intense pain that radiated down my leg. I tried to stretch it, tried to jog, nothing worked. I ended up limping the mile home. The pain was awful. Foam rolling and stretching didn't help. I could barely walk. Sitting made it worse. My physical therapist was booked into the next week so I put myself on the waiting list and made an appointment with my acupuncturist.
After some cupping and needles he said it was my piriformis. When I finally got into my PT she confirmed that it was my piriformis and may also be a slight tear in my hamstring. GREAT.
To top it all off, I got sick. Like really sick. I felt like shit. I was congested and achy and couldn't move without a sharp shooting pain in my hip. When I shared this with my PT she said it was body telling me to slow down.
I've been training very intensely, racking up some pretty high mileage weeks (under the supervision of my coach), but then also going to fitness classes, doing extra strength work and extra speed workouts (didn't tell my coach about this) in addition to working, blogging and living life. My sleep hasn't been the best. For someone who tells people to listen to their body, I wasn't listening to mine. I had noticed a funny feeling in my hamstring for a couple weeks yet never paid it any attention except for some half ass foam rolling here and there. I have been feeling run down and slow but chalked it up to the summer heat.
This past week I've been sleeping in (and getting 8+ hours of sleep), foam rolling, stretching, and taking it easy. Slowly I'm getting back to feeling somewhat better and am only walking with a slight limp. I'm also focusing in on my diet, trying to eat as anti inflammatory as possible and not drown my sorrows in ice cream.
If I could go back in time, this is what I would tell myself:
- You need to sleep. At least 7-8 hours. If you don’t get enough sleep it becomes harder for your body to recover from workouts. Too little sleep also leads to an increase in cortisol, which often comes out during times of stress. An increase in cortisol contributes to slower recovery times. This article explains why sleep is so critical. Sleep Better (And Longer) To Run Better
- If something feels off, don't ignore it. Make an appointment with your physical therapist, acupuncturist, get a massage, foam roll, etc. Treat your body well. You are asking a lot of it.
- Taking an extra rest day doesn't make you lazy. If you feel like you need those extra few hours of sleep, then take it. If your body is feeling especially beat up and hurt, don't try to push through the pain. Taking an extra rest day here and there won't hurt you.
- Actually rest on your rest days. Don't try to do extra workouts. Let yourself recover. Stretch, walk around to get the blood flowing, foam roll, but don't go to a crazy group fitness class. You gotta let your body recover to do its best.
- Drink more water. Dehydration can ruin your training. It slows your running performance and slows your ability to recover.
- Warm up and cool down. Definitely worth cutting your run a mile short to be properly warmed up and to take a few minutes to cool down, stretch and foam roll. I just finished Your Best Stride and I can't wait to be back in running shape to start doing the warm up and cool down in the book.
So now I'm paying for not listening to my body and not slowing down when I should. I'm hoping to be back running in a week or so. I'm also trying to enjoy my time off and get stuff done that I've been neglecting like cleaning the house, reading, and other projects.
I hope you guys are having a great week!